HONG KONG: More than 5,000 protesters gathered at the Hong Kong International Airport on Monday (Aug 12), police said, as authorities cancelled all the day's remaining flights in and out of the busy international transport hub.
"The information I got before we came in was that in the airport passenger terminal building there are over 5,000 protesters," said Kong Wing-cheung, senior superintendent of the police public relations branch, at a press conference.
Kong said airport authorities had allowed demonstrators to gather in the arrivals halls - although the protest was not granted a permit from police - but accused the activists of blocking departures.
"Some of the protesters had gone into the departures hall, causing some passengers to be unable to enter the restricted area to exercise their personal freedom, which is to board their flight," he said.
Pro-democracy activists staged three days of sit-ins at the airport from Friday, but the protests were significantly smaller than Monday's which followed a weekend of often violent confrontations between police and demonstrators across the city.
The weekend's demonstrations left 45 people injured in the clashes, including two who were in serious condition.
Among them was a woman who suffered a serious face injury, reportedly after being hit by a bean bag round. There are rumours circulating that she had lost her vision in the incident.
Images of her lying on the ground with blood pouring from her face quickly went viral and featured on posters calling for new demonstrations.
In response, protesters descended on the city's airport with a call for "an eye for an eye" protest. Thousands of protesters were also dressed in their movement's signature black gathered holding signs reading "Hong Kong is not safe" and "Shame on police."
It was the 10th consecutive weekend that protesters have taken to the streets in a movement that began over opposition to a Bill allowing extradition to mainland China.
The protests have morphed into a broader bid to reverse a slide of democratic freedoms in the southern Chinese city.